Know the Signs of a Heat-Related Illness

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and people will be outside enjoying the warm weather. Permanente adult and family medicine physician Jason Singh, MD, spoke with WTOP and offered summer safety tips and explained the signs of heat-related illnesses.

“There’s heat cramps, which presents as muscle pains or spasms in the stomach, arms or legs,” Dr. Singh said. “Then there’s heat exhaustion, which presents as heavy sweating, muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness and nausea.”

Dr. Singh said anyone experiencing heat cramps or heat exhaustion should get to a cooler location, remove excess layers of clothing and hydrate. If not, they may develop heat stroke, a serious medical emergency.

“This is an oral temperature of greater than 103 and you have red, hot, dry skin with no sweat and a rapid strong pulse and feel dizzy or confusion. This is an emergency so it’s important to get to the closest emergency room or dial 911,” Dr. Singh said.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if someone is experiencing a heat stroke, they should be moved to a cooler location and given a cool cloth. The CDC advises not to give the person anything to drink, as fluids may enter the lungs through the trachea or airway.

Dr. Singh also noted the importance of sunscreen and taking breaks from the sun.

“Sunburn affects our body’s ability to cool down and can also make you dehydrated,” he said.